1. Each Olympic Games, top sponsors shell out millions to take their marketing plans higher, faster, stronger – and ambush advertisers use wily tactics to go loftier, quicker, mightier. Nike appears to be trying to cash in on some of the London spirit, unofficially: Its new campaign, Find Your Greatness, includes an ad that features regular athletes engaging in sports at non-U.K. locations called London around the world. In the spot, people bike on the dirt streets of London, Nigeria, and work out at "London Gym." And Canada is brought into the action too – there are shots of runners pounding the London, Ont. pavement during the city's marathon. "Greatness is not in one special place," the commercial's cheeky voiceover contends. "Greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it." Apparently, so is an advertising opportunity.
2. It's the tragic side of summer: With all the fun to be had by lakes and swimming pools comes the danger of drowning deaths. The issue has taken on particular significance this year with high-profile drownings in Quebec and Ontario. A new campaign used some striking imagery to promote the message of water safety: agency Taxi Canada built a sand sculpture at Vancouver's English Bay, showing a mother cradling her drowned child. The sculpture drew attention to National Drowning Prevention Week, which runs through this weekend. The client, the Lifesaving Society, runs "WaterSmart" education programs and provides swimming, lifeguard and first aid training. According to statistics from the society, there were 347 drownings in Canada in 2011, compared with 409 in 2010 and 368 in 2009.
3. There is nothing like the annual IKEA catalogue to make you feel that your home is not nearly clean, organized or sun-drenched enough. This year, that showroom envy is going digital. The book is incorporating digital technology into its pages for the first time using "augmented reality." The technology allows readers to reveal extra content – such as how-to videos, 3-D views of products, and extra photos – by scanning the pages with a free app on their Android or Apple tablets and smartphones. Like many advertisers, IKEA has been trying to make its traditional marketing tool more relevant to their growing base of digitally savvy customers. It has offered digital copies of its print catalogue in recent years. The new interactive catalogue will be available in 43 countries. They land in Canadian mailboxes beginning on Aug. 13.
4. Vancouver native Brian Wong has a basic message for companies looking into advertising on mobile devices: "Let's do it so people don't hate you." His San Francisco-based start-up, Kiip, just received its second round of venture capital funding for a total of $15.5-million (U.S.) to build his product, which puts branded "rewards" – free or discounted stuff, courtesy of the advertiser – into the games people are already playing on their tablets and smartphones. The service has expanded so much in one year – from 10 advertisers in 10 mobile apps to 40 in roughly 400 games – that this week it launched its own app, Kiipsake, that works as a digital wallet for all those advertisers' rewards. The stumbling block? Mr. Wong's home country; he says the service has taken off in the U.S. but has been a tough sell for advertisers in Canada.